Water Loss in Commercial Property Leaves Not a Moment to Spare
Rock Real Estate is a large commercial real estate broker and property management group in south central Pennsylvania. One property that they manage in downtown York city is a wonderfully refurbished factory that is now home to several commercial tenants. History is blended in to contemporary architecture as the original brick walls and beams are harmonized with the drop ceilings and carpets of a modern day office.
A toilet sprung a significant leak on the evening of May 29, 2014, and Compleat Restorations was called to perform emergency services. Rock Real Estate and the building owner were greatly concerned about their business tenants and making sure that they could continue operating. The leak occurred in the worse possible place in the building; the top floor. To make matters more challenging, the area of loss was positioned between the elevator and staircase creating several safety hazards. The entrances of each business were also saturated making the loss highly visible to customers. The employees were scheduled to begin their workday in six hours from when we arrived on the scene and there was not a moment to spare.
The Compleat emergency team began work right away to secure the affected areas and begin remediation. We soon learned that the elevator was out of commission due to the water and that the staircase was the only other means for employees and customers to move from floor to floor in the building. Compleat employees prepared themselves as the workday began to assist the office employees in getting to their work areas and to have mini-meetings to share an update of the events. The biggest surprise of all was yet to come.
Two of the four floors were occupied by an engineering firm and a finance company. The other two floors housed a branch of a healthcare system with unique requirements and needs. The project suddenly transformed from a standard commercial water loss to a health facility water loss. This meant that containment had to be set up immediately while working under the protocol of the parent health care system. Compleat Restorations now had five customers instead of one; a property owner, a management company and three tenants. Communication and collaboration would be paramount for success.
The first step was to create a plan to share the common stair case, work areas and parking lot that would be the least disruptive for each business. The next step was to bring in an industrial hygienist to ensure that we followed every possible step to make certain that the loss was handled to the satisfaction of the healthcare system. Finally, since the water entered the mechanical system of the elevator, the standing water was considered contaminated because the odor of oils and hydraulic fluids was strong and had to be removed accordingly.
The emergency crew began to open the walls to the lowest possible height to balance the fastest rate of drying while creating the least amount of repair work in the future. Furthermore, we did not want to damage any of the historic parts of the building because we knew that it would be difficult to replace. The resulting debris had to be removed swiftly as to not tie up the stairway and common work area. It next challenge came after we began opening up the walls. There were two layers of drywall on top of plaster.
The building was historic which meant that there was a strong possibility that the plaster contained asbestos. Demolition on certain walls had to be halted until we could be certain. Samples were immediately taken and rushed to a testing facility. In less than 24 hours, the test came back negative and we were allowed to proceed with the emergency services.
We were ready to move forward with our repairs now that drying was complete. What would have been a simple drywall, carpet and ceiling replacement became a complicated scheduling issue. The tenants requested that the repair work occur outside of their operating hours as to not disrupt their workflow. This meant that our crews had to be flexible enough to work on evenings and weekends until the job was finished. Compleat Restoration successfully made all involved parties whole again with no evidence that a loss ever occurred.
Effective restoration companies must be flexible and level headed every minute of the day because each loss has its own unique challenges. No two commercial buildings are the same, and as we all know, you cannot always see what is behind the wall… in a manner of speaking. Losses of this nature serve as a strong reminder that we must always be listening to the customer, and in some case, several customers at once. Had we not taken the time to speak with each business and learn their needs, the project could have quickly unwound. We are proud that none of the businesses lost a single day of work, no one’s safety was risked, and no secondary damage occurred. In our company we are taught to always meet the client at their need; not just the need we perceive. This philosophy has never failed us.